Dallas is known for its weather, which is why street vendors can operate year round. This small business is easy to start, but you need a little bit more than a Dallas street vendor permit to get your business off the ground. To get a street vendor license in Dallas, Texas that lets you sell food and drinks, you’ll have to start with a health permit from the Consumer Health Office and then get the proper vendors' license application from the city.
Create Your Business Entity
Before you can get any permit, you need to be an actual business. Register with the IRS and get your employer identification number. Purchase any required insurance, such as general liability insurance or workers' compensation (if you have employees). Obtain a sales tax permit from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts if you’re selling something other than food, which generally isn’t subject to sales tax.
Know the Dallas Street Vendor Permit Requirements
Dallas has a pretty relaxed view on vending. Most businesses don’t need a vendors' license, which is typically required of companies selling things with sales tax. The only businesses that need a specific license are vending carts, sexually oriented businesses, businesses that sell alcohol and home businesses.
To get a street vendor license in Dallas, Texas, you need to decide on what type of food and drink you’re selling and then fill out the vendors' license application with the Consumer Health Office.
Schedule an Appointment
Those who plan to vend drinks from a food truck or cart need to first make an appointment with the Consumer Health Office. You can call 214-670-1524 to schedule an appointment by phone. Before you can get your vendors' license application approved, they’ll inspect your cart or commissary at its assigned location. You need a health permit before you can get a Dallas street vendor permit.
Make sure your vehicle is at the correctly assigned location and in perfect condition for the inspection. If any of your equipment is broken or severely aging, you might not pass.
Fill out the Paperwork for a Health Permit
The paperwork varies based on the type of vehicle you’ll be using. If you have a truck, you’ll need to fill out paperwork proving you have things like liability insurance and a registered food service manager permit.
You’ll need a current driver's license and blueprints of your food truck interior along with equipment specifications. The permit fee is $185, the application fee is $286 and it costs $205 for the inspection (the latter two are only required for new trucks or a transfer of ownership).
The applications are slightly different if you’re operating a grocery truck that sells fresh fruit and veggies, a lunch truck, an ice cream truck, a catering truck or a pushcart (think: hot dog carts or small ice cream carts). These types of vehicles have mobile application fees of $121 and a permit fee of around $240.
Apply for a Permit to Operate in Dallas Parks
There’s a separate street vendor license in Dallas, Texas for those who wish to operate concessions in public parks. The permit costs $300 for three months, $600 for six months and $900 for nine months. In order to get the permit, you need to agree to the terms, fill out a vendors' license application stating the specific park in which you want to operate and get a permit from the Department of Health to sell food and drinks.
As part of the terms, you agree to have your prices regulated by the Parks Department and follow all public health regulations. You can’t loudly hawk goods, and you can’t sell novelties, clothing, alcohol or school supplies.
Permits for Concessions in the Central Business District
If you’re operating in the central business district, you’re required to purchase a CBD concession license and a CBD location permit. These two permissions allow you to vend in that specific, high-traffic location, where vendors sell everything from flowers and handcrafted goods to hot dogs, oil fragrances and nachos. The CBD location permit costs $1,200 and the CBD concession license costs $150.
Vending Precious Metals
One of the few businesses that need a vendors' permit in Dallas, Texas is precious metal vendors. If you’re selling precious metals, you must obtain a vendors' license application from the Dallas Police Department. You can call 214-670-8320 to inquire.
- City of Dallas: Special Collections -- Licenses
- America's SBDC North Texas: Permit And License Resources
- City of Dallas: Mobile Food Permits
- City Applications: Apply For A Business License Dallas, Texas
- City of Dallas: Proposed Amendments To The Downtown Street Vending Ordinance
- SBA.com: Texas Business Licenses, Permits and Registration
- Texas Comptroller Of Public Accounts: Texas Online Tax Registration Application
Mariel Loveland is a small business owner, content strategist and writer from New Jersey. Throughout her career, she's worked with numerous startups creating content to help small business owners bridge the gap between technology and sales. Her work has been featured in publications like Business Insider and Vice.